Volumes of exporting education services from Finland have been low so far despite the promising market insight. Finnish pedagogical expertise and innovation ecosystem know-how have been like a diamond in the rough which could be used to boost solving critical challenges globally.
Haaga-Helia StartUp School incubator has ramped up its global education export projects in 2017. Sometimes people wonder why did StartUp School, unit part of the government-funded Haaga-Helia University of Applied Science embark on commercial projects globally.
Therefore, I wanted to open up some of the reasoning and the benefits of commercial co-operation that has leveraged for a higher education institute, its students and staff during the first three years.
1. Answering to customer need
StartUp School is a university linked business incubator and learning platform established in 2012. Students participate in the StartUp School offering as part of the university curriculum which has seen as a unique concept globally.
Students can combine both to develop their business idea while progressing with their studies. The StartUp School unit has got plenty of international delegations vising and willing to learn more about our concept and world renewed Finnish pedagogy.
Many visitors have been interested in setting up a similar“StartUp School” incubator locally to boost innovations and entrepreneurial activity. Kicking off commercial activities was originally result of answering to customer need.
2. Ensuring continuous internal renewal and service development
Commercial activities ensure the continuous renewal of the StartUp School unit and offer. Interacting with global customer network is an important way to get feedback and insight for further development of the operations.
Describing and conceptualizing our offering and modules for the customers make us prioritize what is valuable and how it differs from the competition.
Understanding what are the services that international customers are willing to pay for is an additional quality check for us besides the feedback given by the students and staff in our domestic market.
3. Benefitting students
Thirdly, international co-operation can be directly leveraged for the benefit of the students in many ways. Once collaboration has proved to be fruitful and personal connections are established, co-operation can easily be broadened into many other sectors benefiting both parties.
Over 60% of the students joining the StartUp School have an international background from all over the world. Once we regularly interact with our global commercial customers, we strengthen our cultural and entrepreneurship ecosystem understanding globally, which helps us in everyday work with international talents.
Our international connections also help us connect our students to relevant global contacts in the entrepreneurship ecosystem when necessary. This can be especially useful for student entrepreneurs, thesis workers, and students who are looking for traineeships or study exchange programs.
4. Benefitting staff
New, versatile customer projects in education export provide an excellent way to inspire and motivate experienced staff members. The projects are typically planned and carried out with a selected group of experts optimally suited for the assignment.
Working in a joint customer project is a natural way to bring together a network of people across disciplines of the university to work for a common goal.
Projects require dedication and long working hours, but in return, it offers interesting learning and team-building opportunities also for trainers
5. Confirming monetary resources for development
Education export has generated new and welcomed revenue streams. As the government-financed budgets for higher education are getting tighter, profits from education export provide an additional way to fund internal development projects. We can consult our customers in one area, but at the same time always learn from them in the other areas.
As a whole – exporting entrepreneurial know-how globally has been an important way to ensure that our offering stays relevant locally. Sharing our educational knowledge from Finland to help customers to solve global challenges locally is a valuable way to contribute to social responsibility and make the world a bit better place.
The writer Hannele Mennala M.Sc (Econ) is head of the StartUp School incubator in Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Finland. Besides her Master’s degree, she is also a Certified Business Coach and has a professional teaching qualification. Hannele has an extensive background working in global corporations and as a StartUp co-founder. As Head of StartUp School incubator she has kicked off the commercial services for the school. Her curiosity and passion for continuous and lifelong learning have taken her to work and study in five different countries and traveling in over seventy.